The first weekend in March saw three significant ski lift incidents, two of which occurred on the same day in separate ski resorts in Minnesota. One boy fell off a chairlift at Spirit Mountain in Duluth on Friday, and another fell off a chairlift at Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls on Saturday. Both children were injured.
At Wild Mountain, an 8-year-old fell from the chairlift and broke both of his heels. The boy’s father was riding with him. Their chair was about four chairs away from preparing to unload when the lift was suddenly stopped. The sudden stop swung the chair forward, and the boy was thrown off, falling about 12 feet.
The father screamed for the operators to start the lift again, and he was eventually able to get off the lift and ski down to Tyler. The ski patrol then came and ultimately it was determined the youngster had broken both of his heels and would be in a wheelchair for possibly 4-6 weeks.
At Spirit Mountain on Friday, another boy fell about 25 feet from the Spirit Express II lift. The boy has a fractured radius, ulna, pelvis, tailbone and ribs. He also has a liver laceration. Family members say his helmet saved him.
Spirit Mountain officials said chairlift falls are extremely rare and that the lift was working properly at the time.
Then about 90 skiers and snowboarders had to be evacuated from a disabled ski lift at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. No one was injured during the two-hour evacuation last Thursday. The highest point on the lift is about 35 feet above the snow surface.
Resort officials say the lift stopped operating because of mechanical issues. Mechanics are working to repair the lift, but it wasn’t immediately clear when the lift will re-open because parts had to be obtained from the manufacturer.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, there have been 15 chairlift-related deaths reported in the past four decades, the last reported death occurred from a chairlift malfunction in 1993.